Alan Chambers and the Message of Exodus at the Gay Christian Network Conference

The single greatest lie the Christian church tells about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is that sexual orientation and gender identity are not innate. Supporting this lie are complexly interwoven systems rooted in churches, faiths, ethnic groups, political parties and social structures. How can this possibly be untangled and deconstructed with Christian integrity while still holding sensitivity and compassion for the people caught up in the spectrum of that knotted mess? For forty years, the web has become tighter and more complex making it a needle-in-a-haystack challenge to get at its core.

Pull away at the threads and you will find: starting in the 1970’s, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community standing for their civil rights concurrent with the rise of the Evangelical church, in not only numbers, but also in political power. At the cross-section of the two was the formation of Exodus International. After forty years of melding truths with lies and integrity with power, it began to publicly and transparently  pull apart on one important evening.

Justin Lee, Alan Chambers, John Smid, Wendy Gritter & Jeremy Marks

On Friday, January 6, 2012, Justin Lee, the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network (GCN)  invited Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International   to be part of a panel at the annual conference. Also on that panel were: keynote speaker to the conference, Jeremy Marks, Courage UK,  Wendy Gritter, former Canadian Exodus ministry partner and now with New Direction  and John Smid, former leader of Love in Action, a reparative therapy residency program. (The audio is hosted online currently at GCN, a membership site, and the video, when ready, will be linked as here.) The panel selected was an excellent choice. Each confronted the myth of gay to straight  conversion from their own experiences and leadership in the ex-gay movement.

To those that do not closely follow the dialogue and dynamics of the gay and/or Christian issue, the painstaking, almost hour-long discussion of a simple word “gay” may have seemed tedious. The clarification of the language however was core to the issue. Being “gay” as a choice or behavior versus being gay as a part of innate sexual orientation is the single largest determining factor in the US for the extension of civil rights to an entire class of people. There are about 19 million people in the US alone from whom equality is withheld based on the understanding of the word “gay”.

If you believe being gay results from: unhealthy family dynamics, destructive early sexual imprints, “rebellion against God” or choice, then you are likely to attach “sin” and “immorality” to the word “gay”. Exodus, who has clearly built immorality into the meaning of the word “gay”, has been effectively poisoning the entire Christian culture in the US, and now worldwide,  with the pressure, hope, call for and “benefits” of change in sexual orientation of the glbt population. We can talk all around the edges of this issue, but until we get at the core, the dirty, stinking, rotting core of the lie, we will be tossing rocks at the offenders and setting up camps on either side for the triage victims.

What unfolded on the stage at the GCN conference was not the result of one phone call or a chipper e-vite. Justin first went to the Exodus Freedom Conference in June and what followed were months of relationship-building followed via emails and phone calls. Alan clearly must have sensed Justin’s integrity to consider accepting the invitation to appear with panel of former ex-gay leaders in a public, recorded forum.

A public forum has both benefit and risk. Transparency and accountability are both important. Alan Chambers has a well-deserved reputation of speaking to the Exodus supporters and the straight church, and then toning it down when speaking to  outsider cameras and audiences; he would make a fine politician.  Although Alan says Exodus is no longer using the “change is possible” slogan, the message is certainly deeply entrenched in the church and clearly messaged in their website:

  • “Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ”
  • They help people “walk out of their homosexuality”, tell them there is “a life beyond homosexuality”, “heterosexuality (is) God’s creative intent for humanity”, “homosexuality is outside God’s will”,  and there is “freedom to grow into heterosexuality”.
  • They assure people that “same sex attractions do not have to be a life-defining issue” and many say “their tastes have changed” and “thousands of individuals show their efforts to change sexual orientation can be a productive and significant success” and the homosexual “can experience freedom”.
  • “Exodus affirms reorientation of same sex attraction is possible.” and they “make it clear that homosexuality is a sin”.

THIS is the message the church hears, THIS is the message parents with gay youth hear, THIS is the message gay people struggling to serve God hear. THIS is the message wound up tightly in forty years of church and politics and lives and families. And, it is a lie. Alan Chambers, President of Exodus, sat on a stage in front of hundreds of gay Christians and their allies and families and said:

The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could  never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction. I think there is a gender issue there, there are some women who have challenged me and said that my orientation or my attractions have changed completely. Those have been few and far between. The vast majority of people that I know will experience some level of same-sex attraction.

Although we were asked to submit questions earlier in the day so that all the questions came directly from the stage, there was only time for one pre-written comment. It  involved reparative therapy treatment for gay youth pressured by parents and churches to seek council. Many Exodus member partners do promise change . The horrific spiritual and emotional abuse imposed by unlicensed counselors is driving youth to depression and suicide, and families to destruction. John Smid recalled a time when Love in Action was under tremendous public pressure and he went to Exodus and received no help; they were not trained, nor were they expert at youth counseling and could not help Smid. Being gay was treated/is treated as a behavior akin to the treatment of addictions, a deception at the core with non-effective “treatment”.

Alan Chambers, John Smid & Wendy Gritter

Smid called upon Alan Chambers and Exodus to stop immediately the practice of pressuring gay youth to enter reparative therapy for sexual orientation. Alan responded he agreed that “a child should not be threatened with the withdrawal of financial support”, but intimated that Justin, not being a parent, did not understand that a parent “would do what it felt right to do as a parent.” Well, my goodness, if I had been raised in the Evangelical church in the last forty years, had a gay child and went to the Exodus website, I too might think the best I could do for my child is to help change him. It does not seem possible to hold both the knowledge of “change is possible” and “the majority  meaning 99.9% of (people) have not experienced a change in their orientation” within the same organization.

Alan, throughout the dialogue, referred to his identity in Christ, his self labels, his own choice to eschew being “gay-identified”. Alan Chambers, the man, the Dad, the husband can view himself in any way he chooses. He was there as the President of Exodus International, representing the largest gay reparative therapy organization in the world. The organization he leads is deceiving the church, families and glbt Christians into believing that not only is homosexual sexual orientation not inherent, it is changeable. The stinking lie at the core of this issue needs to be completely unwrapped from the holy garbs the church and Exodus have shrouded it in, laid out on the table and left to die.

I do understand that there was risk associated with bringing the most public face of the abuser into a safe conference setting where ex-gay survivors are in attendance. A letter had been sent to all conference registrants eight days before the conference to warn that people from Exodus might be  present since Orlando is home to Exodus. Not one registrant called the office to express concern. Justin was prepared to refund not only conference fees, but air fees as well to keep GCN members safe.

After the morning session, where we were all told about the evening panel, a few of those who have suffered the immense pains of Exodus and other reparative therapy expressed great anguish over the decision to have Alan Chambers, and even John Smid, at the GCN Conference. Counselors were made available onsite for those who did not want to or could not attend this optional event. Many have complained that the counselors were offered as an “afterthought”. This is true; it was not pre-planned when Alan was invited. But, which one of has not been “rescued” by others when we have not wisely seen risk from every angle? We love to tell the “miracle” stories of God’s provision, do we not? Can we not see His hand in this as well?

Many ex-gay survivors who were not at the conference reeled in pain and reaction knowing that Chambers had been welcomed. That is understandable. A few have discounted those reactions saying they have no right to express anger or feel pain since they were not in attendance.

Abuse victims and those who suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) would understandably have been triggered by this event. The “surprise” of it and the “not knowing” are button pushers for PTSD sufferers. Those of us at conference heard the full explanations and options of support for the evening, those off-site, did not. Be gracious with them, they had no warning and, their suffering is real. Any person who needs help navigating this deep and real trauma may find help at Beyond Ex-Gay.

Some have complained that there was not a long advance warning that Alan Chambers would be on a panel at the conference; he only confirmed his attendance two days prior to the panel discussion.  Publicly announcing the possibility of his attendance could well have caused a “media event” exploding into far more egregious privacy issues for those at the conference. A large portion of attendees are still closeted in some aspect of their lives and even photos of them are banned. The additional and intentional badge checks at the door before the evening session increased security; no outside media was allowed.

The gracious, hospitable, brave, prophetic action of Justin Lee, Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network, exemplified not only the spirit of  Christianity, but the graciousness I personally find so prevalent in the gay Christian community. He ended the exchange by stating:

These issues are important to us and to the lives of so many people. The audience is not friendly to your message. That means a lot to me and I appreciate you as a brother in Christ even though we disagree in so many ways. I want to end on a note that I think I’ve been clear about where I disagree, but we agree that ultimately our goal is to glorify Christ.

Alan stayed for another one and a half hours listening to people. Many were able to find closure by telling him directly what pain Exodus has caused in their lives. No, he did not apologize or take responsibility, but forgiveness on our part is not conditional on the other asking for it. Healing for ourselves, however, does come from forgiveness.

Alan Chambers, Lisa Salazar, Dean Johnson (hidden) & Kathy

I took about ten minutes with two of my Board members of Canyonwalker Connections to address the concerns I have that Exodus do not actively enter the attack on the transgender community that some in the church are clearly launching. There are statements on the Exodus site offensive to the transgender Christian community. Board member, Lisa Salazar, a transwoman, gave Alan her book “Transparently” and spoke with him too on trans issues. Finally, I asked for the commitment from Alan that I be allowed to attend the annual Exodus conference in June. I was uninvited to the June 2011 conference for fear of my presence there.

I hope that, on reflection and as time passes, the many concerned parties in this historic cross section of people and ministries will be able to see the profoundly important, publicly transparent shift that occurred. The stinking lie of gay as a choice, gay as a sin, gay as an option, gay as immoral has begun its overdue death. I do not know what intentions Exodus has for its personal rebranding. I hope to see them either be honest about the message from their leader’s mouth or bring their website, resources and member organizations into alignment with what was publicly expressed by their leader.

Justin Lee

The message to the church, in particular the Evangelical church, needs to be loud, clear and honest: gay people are part of God’s creation and they can indeed not only access Him and His grace in full equality, but should be welcomed with full inclusion into the churches. The created lies have divided the body for too long.

I applaud Justin Lee for taking the initiative to seek out relationship, establish a trusting, productive dialogue over the past six months and ultimately, and  invite Alan Chambers to a transparent public venue of accountability. Now, the Christian community, including its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, needs to ensure that  man’s tangled mess of lies and systems falls and Jesus’ beauty of justice and equality rises.

Thank you to Rick Wood, Milwaukee  Journal Sentinel, for all the photos

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Jerry Reiter says:

Rev. Curtiss,
Bishop Tutu said it better than I could:
We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about — our very skin. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.

I am proud that in South Africa, when we won the chance to build our own new constitution, the human rights of all have been explicitly enshrined in our laws. My hope is that one day this will be the case all over the world, and that all will have equal rights. For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.

It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.

Churches say that the expression of love in a heterosexual monogamous relationship includes the physical — the touching, embracing, kissing, the genital act; the totality of our love makes each of us grow to become increasingly godlike and compassionate. If this is so for the heterosexual, what earthly reasons have we to say that it is not the case with the homosexual?

The Jesus I worship is not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority. I myself could not have opposed the injustice of penalizing people for something about which they could do nothing — their race — and then have kept quiet as women were being penalized for something they could do nothing about — their gender; hence my support for the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

Equally, I cannot keep quiet while people are being penalized for something about which they can do nothing — their sexuality. To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as apartheid ever was.

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Jeremy H says:

I cancelled my plans to attend the conference as soon as I learned of Chambers’ attendance and I’ve not even had a bad experience with reparative therapy. I HAVE now had a bad experience with GCN, an organization that has long been touting itself as a safe place for gay christians. I wholeheartedly agree that the dialogue that took place needs to happen but GCN’s conference is the absolutely wrong venue for it to take place. In addition, the manner in which the advance notice was handled only made the whole situation seem more deceptive and therefore an effort to ‘ambush’ GCN members in a potentially volatile situation. I’ve had to re-evaluate my role with the organization in light of this event.

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Kathy | Canyonwalker Reply:

As with any person or group that is human or made of humans, I hope you will extend grace. I know I have made mistakes that have hurt others. Intentions, not intentional and imagined. But this is the core of the outworkings of my faith- to extend grace and forgiveness. Justin has taken responsibility and unlike many situations I have been hurt by, the offenders offered no such balm and STILL I extended grace. That obedient step eventually healed things that seemed impossible. It is all choice: forgiveness, mercy, grace and resentment, anger and exacting a price.

I hope this event will cause many to not only assess the ex-gay movement, but what they offer in their own daily lives to end this tragedy. We each have a part. The ones that take ACTIVE parts risk big, succeed big and fail big. I see the TREMENDOUS benefit of Gay Christian Network. There is NO substitute organization of its kind to point glbt Christian people to for community.

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Kathy, as you know I appreciate all that you do. The one line quoted in all of this discourse that most disturbs me is the hideos proposition that Chambers, and others like him, are only seeking to glorify Christ (as are those of GCN and similar organizations and individuals). I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS FOR ONE MOMENT. Being in ministry for more than 30 years, I know that there are those who glory in the notion that they can control and change people, making them believe as they do relative to virtually any subject. Some people share the Gospel of Jesus Christ out of a sincere desire to bring the grace and peace of eternal salvation to a soul otherwise lost without God. Some do so because they get a personal adrenalin rush when someone “converts” to their position and embraces what they say/teach/preach. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not one to mince words. Justin, quite frankly, was stroking the enemy in making such a foolish comment. He was suggesting that both sides in a fierce battle engage in war at the cost of untold number of lives for the same reason. But the truth is, without a massive disagreement in principal, posture, or precept there would be no need for war. Exodus (and others like them) have in fact signed on with the enemy of men’s souls. They no longer work on the side of truth, righteousness, and godliness. One cannot employ the tacticts they employ and still be legitimately viewed as Christian in purpose or method. Jesus said that the church would be infested with “wolves in sheeps clothing.” Claiming to represent the God of the church they would destroy, scatter and devour God’s sheep. THIS IS THE TRUE NATURE OF EXOUS. And frankly, had I been present at this event I would have said so.

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Rev Charles Curtiss Reply:

‎”16 These six things doth the LORD hate : yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief…, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” PRVERBS 6:16-19 These people tell lies, in spite of the research and statistics. They sow horrible seeds of discord and disharmony in families, separating forever children from their parents and causing untold damage to all kinds of familial relationships. They do not encourage parents of GLBT kids to love unconditionally as the Scripyures teach us,, nor do they encourage them to accept their child should “change” (by their scewed definition) not come about. No church encourages their members to throw out into the streets or abandon their drunkard or drug addicted children, yet the ex-Gay movement is primarily responsible for making people believe a lie and then encouraging parents to abandon all biblical requirements for unconditional, Christ-like parental love and continued compassion and nurturing when a child refuses to or is unable to change their orientation. IT IS A SIN!

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Kiril says:

Hi Kathy,
A thoughtful summary. I wish I could have been there to hear the discussion live.

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Rhea says:

Maddie, the 99.9% line *is* from 2007 (I had that confirmed from a friend of mine). Basically everything that Alan said, he’s said before…YEARS earlier even. So nothing new occurred…well, except for extreme hurt on the part of ex-gay survivors. I totally grieve for the man whose PTSD was triggered at the event…as far as I’m concerned, it was a direct result of Justin/GCN’s carelessness. I have PTSD myself (though not relating to ex-gay therapy) and I know how horrible it can be. I’ve tried to imagine what it would be like for me to be put in a similar situation (one that somehow relates to my PTSD). I would have totally flipped…and probably gone numb…for days…perhaps weeks.

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Kathy | Canyonwalker Reply:

One sentence was not the sum of it. To be confronted by former insiders publicly and for the record on tape is HUGE. Also, Chambers stayed around for 1 1/2 hours and listened to people and their stories. Never underestimate what happened and IS happening inside of him. I had an interesting experience with a former leader of Exodus this year. Last year she slammed the crap out of me after my parents and friends workshop. She came out three months ago and was there with her partner this year and apologizing to me as well. The change came for her AT the conference watching the people. She did little interaction last year; she was visibly on edge and firmly planted in arrogance. You never know what is going on inside someone. I have my own “ponderings” on this one, not for public eyes.

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Anthony Godinez says:

Thank you Kathy for your insightful description of the event. As a Conference attendee, it’s nice to have a recap of the events and a different perspective to understand the event better. My experience at the panel discussion was positive and helped launch further discussion among our individual groups about how we can bridge the divide among our communities. Though I do agree we could have chosen a better location for this event, possibly off-site, I do wholeheartedly agree with Justin “that ultimately our goal is to glorify Christ.” GCN is becoming an organization that puts feet on the goals that we are trying to reach. I applaud them for traveling down a difficult road to engage in a dialogue, knowing the topic truly needs to be addressed, even when faced with adversity from within. It was great seeing you again at the Conference – again, thank you for your unwavering commitment to our community!

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Colin D says:

I am so grateful Kathy for your caring, gracious and focused commitment to sharing the events of Friday night. I was privileged to be present. There were big issues being discussed and the sense of hurt experienced by many people present and not present was palpable. The moment of personal resolution for me came 12 hours later as we sat in worship and sung “Perfect submission, all is at rest; I in my Savior am happy and blest, watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love.” That will continue to be a special highlight of GCN conference 2012.

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Lindsey says:

I think for me giving GCN “time” means acknowledging that conference ended on Sunday. Today is Tuesday morning. Justin did post something as immediately as I think was humanly possible after the event. Yes he was tired and rambling, but conferences never are known for affording people much rest. Kathy promised a response, needed to ask for time, and posted something about 24 hours later. Giving Kathy “time” involved waiting 1 day. We haven’t seen the length of wait from GCN yet, but I do think it’s a bit to say that GCN is needlessly delaying a response.

I acknowledge that my own ex-gay survivor story differs from other ex-gay survivors. I just don’t see how we can simultaneously fault an immediate response while saying responses are not happening fast enough.

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Kathy | Canyonwalker Reply:

For me to write one day later, I had to forego a day at the parks with friends and did not have to pack up all the equipment and drive back to NC. Justin and the team did. The stress level on him for the several days was also FAR higher than it was on me. I would think a statement will come with video too. I know the audio is being matched to the video now. It is far more complicated (and being done with volunteers who also traveled home and have gone back to work)than a simple upload from a laptop to youtube. I choose to give him space.

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Lindsey Reply:

Kathy, I am in agreement with you. I don’t think GCN will delay response. I was trying to point out that the time window has been very short and coincident with GCN doing many things.

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Tim A says:

This has moved beyond whether or not it should have happened (it did), or how it was handled (poorly, in my opinion)… but whether or not the leadership of GCN can be trusted to provide the “safe space” for the most vulnerable among us, especially the youth… and THAT is part of their mission statement. A few months prior, October to be precise, Justin wrote to an ex-gay survivor that bringing someone like John Smid (who is in the process of repenting for what he has done in the past) to the conference would be a bad idea… but not only was John there, so was Alan Chambers, who remains (even after this event) unrepentant and possibly clueless of the damage he and his organization has done and continues to do. Is the GCN board of directors merely puppets of Justin? They have not, as of this time, released a statement about this either. Once trust has been broken with someone it take a long time to repair… and it is the responsibility of the person who broke that trust (Justin, in this instance) who needs to do the work necessary to repair that trust. All I keep hearing is you were not there so you don’t get it… which is disingenuous, or to give Justin and the board time — the problem with that is the longer this goes, the harder it will be to repair the damage already done.

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Rhea Reply:

So in October Justin said it would be wrong to bring someone who was in the process for repenting of his ex-gay ways to conference…yet in January it’s okay to do that, PLUS okay to bring someone who still doesn’t ‘get’ it and isn’t willing to repent? He’s flip-flopping more than John Kerry did!

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Gail Dickert says:

Thank you for attempting to show a compassionate angle on the survivors who were and are affected negatively from this decision. Survivors have been blasted in online forums since we left Exodus as being “unforgiving” and it’s disgusting to behold how the church treats its victims. Some are truly struggling with how to trust Christianity again after an act like this… and only other survivors understand why, it seems. But your sensitivity is appreciated. At least you are acknowledging what this could be perceived as by a survivor. We will be discussing this at Beyond Ex-Gay tomorrow at our online chat session, for any survivors who need a safe place to process their thoughts.

Remember, Beyond Ex-Gay is not a substitute for professional therapy. To publicly set an example, I admit that I needed to schedule a session with my therapist in response to working with other survivors the last few days. I left ex-gay ministries over a decade ago but was in it from a very young age so I still need to revisit some healing techniques and be sure I’m addressing it properly when the trauma is triggered. (especially by Christians) While good may come from this, a lesson for survivors is that we must take care of ourselves, at all cost… because in the end, personal responsibility is all we have anyway.

If being victimized by Exodus or Exodus-related ministries has taught us anything, it’s how to look at people in authority (and now unfortunately for some, this includes Justin Lee and GCN) and say, “Actually, you can shove your lies (and justifications for them), you can save your stories of manipulation… You can’t tell me how to live, you can’t tell me how to feel and you can’t tell me how to believe. I am who I am, my story is my story and I am free!”

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Gail Dickert says:

Well said, Maddie…

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Kim Johnson says:

I’m not so sure it was a good idea. Exodus and other programs have
hurt so many so deeply. I was horrified when I found out what was happening
In real time thanks to friend’s via text and Facebook. I still am not sure.
Time will tell if it was a good decision or a major fail.

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Nancye says:

I applaud you Kathy. This is sensitively written, insightful and a worthy commentary on both the issues and the people involved.Thank you for keeping us so well informed.

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Maddie says:

OMG! Stop feeding the narcissists!!!

Look at reality for even just a moment. Seriously?!?!? The whole panel discussion and the fallout is not about God. Look harder at the WHOLE picture, know the truth and not the splash. This was all more about Justin thinking he was going to make a splash than it was about anything else. It was not about keeping ex-gay survivors safe. The spin that there was an email sent to those registered for the conference informing them there was a possibility of people from Exodus being at he conference was only a CYA move on Justin’s part. There is way too huge a chasm separating “might be in present” and given a platform in the spotlight with a microphone. Justin spent too much time doing the talking for this to be a dialogue… he talked as much or more than the panelists and, with the exception of the panelists questions directed at Alan, the questions asked were Justin’s questions (not the promised audience questions). It was not about the large portion of Justin’s organization that are ex-gay survivors, church abuse victims, etc. If it was, they would have been considered long before. There should have been something in place and not just as an after thought… even if Alan only confirmed 2 days prior. A leader of a transparent, caring Christian organization does not drop the ball or let these things fall through the cracks… it should have been Justin’s first priority. It was not historical (the 99.9% line is NOT new… I believe 2007 was the first time it was mentioned). These conversations have been happening a long time with Alan… same questions/same responses and double speak semantic filled half answers, if that’s what you’d like to call them. If homework had been done, real digging… this would not have happened the way it did, where it did. It was a spotlight move from someone who has a way too well fed ego.

Justin’s insincere follow-up video was even more evidence of this… talking twice about the lighting being bad, stating how hungry he was more than once, expressing his dislike of IHOP and talking about how exhausted he was certainly pails in comparison to the ex-gay survivor who had to leave the session early because his PTSD was triggered and made him physically ill enough to stay curled up in bed at the hotel the rest of the night because he just couldn’t talk (and YES, this really happened).

Yep, totally sounds like God’s provision, productive dialogue, profoundly important, historical, prophetic, etc. to me.

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Kathy | Canyonwalker Reply:

Maddie, I don’t agree with much of your assessment and do realize we come from different places from which we view this. Surely you can see that some good can come of this. So many people there were VERY favorable about the event and there was a standing ovation, prolonged after it.

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Maddie Reply:

I absolutely agree there are those that took something positive from this, I actually never assumed or stated otherwise. That does NOT negate the way it happened, the hiding, the deceit, lack of respect/consideraton to those who have been harmed by the abusers (Alan Chambers and John Smid)… that is all on Justin Lee. I, and so many others, am not willing to give Justin a pass on the very wrong way this all happened, his dishonesty and lack of transparency. He doesn’t get a pass just by mere fact that he is Justin Lee, head of GCN. As much as Alan Chambers needs to be held accountable publicly and privately for the hurt he has caused and the deceit he has/continues to exhibit, Justin Lee needs to be held accountable publicly and privately for the pain and harm he has caused and deceit he has exhibited.

The facts are Justin screwed up… in rather egregious ways. He disregarded the people who would be hurt the most by this. These things do not conjure up heroism. They are character flaws that cannot be ignored any more than those of Alan Chambers.

Are you saying it’s okay to call Alan out for the harm he has caused, but not Justin? The hurt may not look the same as the hurt that Alan Chambers and Exodus is responsible for, but if you ask a lot of ex-gay survivors it looks similar. Someone they trusted betrayed them, I’d say that equates a hell of a lot of hurt. As Justin said during the panel discussion, “the truth is messy”, but Justin made it that way for himself.

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Kathy | Canyonwalker Reply:

I recognize that this was a difficult event for a few. No one is any less important than another. I would think it rare that as we publicly raise these issues, that all will agree on the hows of it. You too are important to consider. I do believe that MANY gay youth will be saved FROM Exodus because this was done so publicly. I am not unfamiliar with PTSD. At all. My own abuse drove deeper to the cross and there, I found the healing that changed my life. My EVERY major decision and relationship was tainted by my abuse. I know what it is to hurt and be triggered. I know Justin to be a person of great integrity. The price to change is costly, on many fronts. Justin did not “disregard” anyone. He may not have done it in the way you needed it to be handled or the way you would like it to have been done, but that does not equal “disregard”.
I am not going to argue this out with you Maddie. I agree with the event taking place. I would rather it happened with it’s flaws than not at all. “Wisdom is known by her children”. I look to good things coming of this. When Justin addresses all of this, you may still wildly disagree. As we all navigate this rough road created over forty years ago, many people will be challenged in many ways.

I have read lots of your stuff Kathy……this is definitely one of your best. Insightful, honest, direct, realistic……..thanks. Love your work.

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